Jodat Law Group reviews changes to a defective law
Section 230(c) of the Communications Decency Act
The US federal law that is ironically titled the “Communications Decency Act”, was ratified in 1996. This was long before Google decided “to organize the world’s information and to make it universally accessible and useful”. The law was enacted to protect the new Internet industry against public liability topics, to protect its growth.
The Internet is probably now the most robust industry on the planet. Operators within the internet industry no longer need the security provided by § 230C. The law immunizes providers from liability for the innocent or intentional publication of harmful allegations, smear-campaigns, tortious interference for monetary gain, and extortion.
The FTC’s broad directive involves security for consumers, but likewise for companies who are victims of vicious trade practices. Though this is a matter for modification by the U.S. Congress, the FTC has substantial convincing power with legislators, and must, for that reason, get involved.
The § 230(c) escape clause is obsolete. Jodat Law Group reviews and believes it must be amended with provisions that impose an acceptable duty of care responsibilities on the likes of Google, Facebook, and other search & social media titans. These giants are willfully ignorant of the ongoing anguish caused to individuals and also companies, who are being shattered by malicious libel compounded by these prosperous and powerful online networks.
Jodat Law Group reviews the following illustration of common abuse of Section 230(c) loophole. Any person can anonymously publish fake claims against any other individual or company, on numerous notorious sites. Soon after, the damaging libel released on these websites emerges in Google search results for the individual or organization named there. The website administrators will then get in touch with the damaged party and offer to mitigate the ongoing attacks, in recompense for significant financial payments. Without having the loophole protection of § 230(c), this would be identical to criminal extortion, and the site would be liable for libel. However, due to the federal supremacy of § 230(c), the sites are licensed to exact these payments from their victims; without liability or criminal charges for extortion.
By now, tens, if not hundreds of thousands of companies maligned in these sites are targeted by shady opponents or other people who, for whatever reasons, look to do damage to the maligned parties. § 230(c) allows the content providers, including search engines, to ignore the desperate requests of the victims to remove the fake news.
This is only one of many illustrations of abuses caused by shady Internet service providers and website operators, because of this flawed law. It represents an unmistakable and existing threat to the financial stability of hundreds of American businesses, whose potential customers utilize Google search as their due diligence research tool.
What Jodat Law Group reviews believe should be modified
The following clause needs a crucial modification:
230(c)(1) “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”
Changes need to be made to the following effect:
“No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider, as long as that provider illustrates a sensible duty of care to third parties who are defamed, bothered, or otherwise harmed, by material under the provider’s management and once the injured party has informed the provider of the appearance of the defaming content”.
This duty of care needs to extend to Google, just as much as to for the blackmail sites. Google cites 230(c)(1) as a defense for not removing defamatory search results from its proprietary search index when injured parties apply for removal. Google uses this as a carte blanche get-out-of-jail-free card, and it is reprehensible.
Jodat Law Group respectfully advises the FTC to use its considerable weight and impact in persuading lawmakers in the U.S. Congress, to bring about amendments to this outdated law. This law can be actually identified as “State-Sponsored Cyber Terrorism”.
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